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A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

Architecture

When creating a new home surrounded by owner-built properties on the NSW South Coast, the owners were intent on ensuring the result was modest, not ostentatious, and respectful of the local community. The perfect person for the job? Their daughter, architect Madeleine Blanchfield!

Not only did Madeleine perfectly understand the desires of her parents, her architecture expertise enabled a sympathetic design response perfectly suited to its Bendalong context. 

The 2019-2020 bushfires threatened to destroy this home not long after completion (as evidenced in photos of the surrounding trees), but fortunately it was built to BAL – 19 standards, and thanks to the tireless work of the Rural Fire Service, it is still standing strong!

22nd January, 2021

The Bendalong House was originally designed as a beach house but the design was so successful, it became the client’s full-time residence! Photo – Robert Walsh.

The house was designed for architect Madeleine Blanchfield’s parents, who were seeking a strong connection to the outdoors. Hence, the fully retractable, doors with operable timber screens! Photo – Robert Walsh.

Community-oriented design was paramount; the clients didn’t want to construct anything too flashy or ostentatious that wouldn’t be in-keeping with the area. Photo – Robert Walsh.

‘We wanted maximum flow between spaces, so glass opens in the corners and stacks away, leaving very little but the roof when open,’ says Madeleine. Photo – Robert Walsh.

The material palette is clean and bright – sympathetic to the building’s understated character. Photo – Robert Walsh.

The sleeping quarters are separate to the living pavilion, which is very communal. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Not long after its completion, the 2019-2020 bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast, and came very close to ruining this family’s painstaking creation. ‘The bushland surrounding Bendalong was ablaze for weeks, some of it only metres from the house. Plants around the base of the house were singed, and there were many nervous days unsure whether it was lost,’ says Madeleine. Photo – Robert Walsh.

Amelia Barnes
Friday 22nd January 2021

Depending on who you ask, designing a home for your parents could be either a dream or nightmare job. Luckily for Madeleine Blanchfield, it was the former!

The architect’s parents initially tasked her with designing their holiday house in Bendalong, on the NSW South Coast, but the result was so successful, they now live here full time!

Madeleine’s parents were open to a contemporary house from the outset, but nothing too flashy.

‘They are humble people, and wanted to build something that would not appear too bulky or ostentatious from the street and would not impact neighbours or the village feel that Bendalong has.’ Madeleine explains. Given the number of much-loved, owner-built homes in the area, this latter point was especially important.

In response, Madeleine devised a ‘simple and unassuming’ home using her signature stylish flair. ‘We chose to expose the structural system and referred to the simple post and beam type of system that is common in beach houses, with a little more detail and finesse,’ she says.

The parents were also seeking a close connection to the outdoors, hence the home’s fully retractable windows that enclose the ground floor. ‘We wanted maximum flow between spaces, so glass opens in the corners and stacks away, leaving very little but the roof when open,’ says Madeleine. To overcome issues of privacy, operable timber screens were installed, and the traditional front terrace was placed at the rear. ‘[It’s] unusual, but makes it private and sheltered.’

Not long after this home’s completion, the 2019-2020 bushfires ravaged the NSW South Coast, and came very close to ruining this family’s painstaking creation. Madeleine recalls, ‘The bushland surrounding Bendalong was ablaze for weeks, some of it only metres from the house. Plants around the base of the house were singed, and there were many nervous days unsure whether it was lost.’

Fortunately the home was built to BAL – 19 standards, and thanks to the tireless work of the Rural Fire Service, it was able to be saved. 

Visit the home today and not only is it standing strong, you’ll likely see others outside taking photos of its beauty. ‘My parents invite them into the living pavilion, which is separate to the bedrooms and very communal,’ Madeleine says. ‘Exactly the spirit of the area we were hoping to embrace!’  

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net